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Stressed Birds More Attractive To Mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can afflict humans and animals alike. Diseases transmitted are dependent on the species of mosquito and include dengue, malaria, West Nile virus, filariasis, and Zika. Female mosquitoes use a variety of factors including CO2 output to locate a target. Are you a mosquito magnet? When a mosquito feeds, saliva and disease-causing pathogens enter into the blood. Usually, mosquitoes are geographically limited. However, mosquito-borne diseases have now become more widespread due to climate changes and other environmental factors. The use of insect repellent and protection from mosquitos are essential for preventing mosquito transmitted diseases.

Human influence on the environment is not only impacting humans, but also the health of wildlife. Are higher stress hormone levels appealing for mosquitoes? Researchers have shown that birds exposed to stressors such as pesticides, noise and light pollution are twice as likely to be fed upon by mosquitoes. Stress hormones have negative effects on animals including immunosuppression and increasing susceptibility to infection. This study suggests stressed birds are slower to fight off West Nile virus infection and will consequently transmit the virus to additional mosquitoes. Thus, an elevated level of corticosterone, a stress hormone, raised the level of host attractiveness. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. The study also observed mosquitoes that fed on stressed birds changed their reproduction rates to potentially increase the rate of transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. This study will have implications on the transmission of other viruses such as Zika. A better understanding of the mosquito-host interplay is needed to tackle the growing threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

For more information:http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/283/1836/20161278

Enzo Life Sciences provides a broad range of immunoassay kits for monitoring stress, reproductive physiology, health and welfare, and survival of wildlife animals. We provide a highly sensitive, high throughout, species independent Corticosterone ELISA kit. Our products are used by zoos, aquariums and conservation scientists worldwide, allowing us to create and share an extensive database of knowledge for methods that benefit creatures both large and small. For more information, check out our Wildlife Endocrinology platform.

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